Temporary exhibition

26 May 2017 — 7 January 2018

ILLUSIONS: The Art of Magic

The exhibition takes on the period of magic shows’ golden age and its advertising and promotional mechanisms that relied on phantasmagoric imagery. Discover a selection of breathtaking posters featured for the first time in Canada, mostly dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that retraces the social history of this still active phenomenon.

These posters, halfway between art and advertisement, are magnificent, large format chromolithographs that immortalise the most popular magicians of the era –the Herrmanns, Kellar, Chung Ling Soo, Thurston and, of course, Houdini– as well as the acts that marked the world of modern magic.

Each section of the exhibition explores a specific type of illusion: appearance and disappearance, decapitation, levitation, escapes, and mental phenomena.

  • Thurston, Levitation – The Greatest Illusion in the World, Strobridge Lithographing Co., 1914, M2014.128.542
  • Carter, The Mysterious, Illinois Litho Co.,1905, M2014.128.86
  • Kellar, Toasting with the Devil, Strobridge Lithographing Co., 1899, M2014.128.299
  • Le Roy, Talma, Bosco 
World’s Monarchs of Magic, Adolph Friedländer, 1905, M2014.128.318
  • Thurston, Do The Spirits Come Back?, Strobridge Lithographing Co., 1915, M2014.128.421
  • Houdini, The Water Filled Torture Cell. Strobridge Lithographing Co., 1916
© McCord Museum,
M2014.128.223.
  • Houdini, The Dangerfield. Printing Co. Ltd, 1913, M2014.128.229 © McCord Museum

For this exhibition, the McCord Museum showcases part of its extraordinary collection of posters and documents on the theme of magic. Acquired recently thanks to La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, the Allan Slaight Collection is the only one of its magnitude in Canada; it comprises 600 posters and more than 1,000 documents and rare books. The collection was named in honour of the Canadian businessman and magic enthusiast Allan Slaight.

Acquisition made possible by La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso. 

Discover ILLUSIONS: The Art of Magic with Luc Langevin, ambassador of the exhibition.

Not to be missed!

What people are saying about it

« An exhibit that all but demands a generous deployment of the very adjectives and exclamation marks seen on so many of its posters. It’s triumphant! Marvellous! Mesmeric! » Montreal Gazette
« A fascinating new collection. » CTV News Montreal
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